Sigma Tau Delta Conference
Marisa Cardin / Senior Staff Writer
From March 29th to April 1st, 2017, ten students from Sigma Tau Delta flew to Louisville, Kentucky, to attend the annual English Honors society conference. About a year ago, some of these same students had gone to the conference in Minneapolis, with only one of them presenting a collection of poetry. This year, all ten students were presenting something, and some of them were involved with more than one presentation. Five people presented a panel entitled “Women In Violence: Debunking Cultural Myths,” which explored the myth of women being unable to enact violent crimes in the same way that men are able to. Three students presented academic papers, two presented short stories, and three presented collections of poetry. The conference included keynote speakers, such as Jeff VanderMeer and Megan Mayhew Bergman, who students had the opportunity to speak with and even get copies of the writers‘ novels signed. When students weren’t busy presenting their own work, they were welcomed to go around to different readings and panels, some of which included: “A Critical Lens Evaluation of Disney Princesses,” “Narrative in Gaming: Role-Playing and Beyond,” “Adolescents in Original Fiction,” and “The American Short Story as a Form.”
Overall, though the conference only lasted three short days, every student had a fantastic time going from panel to panel, and gained a new perspective on the art of English and Literature through discussing these ideas with members of other STD chapters. Wyatt Ewert, a junior at Western, said that his experience at the conference was “Fun, but exhausting. I found myself going to a bunch of different round tables and readings, leaving me busy for much of the day. However, each of the readings and round tables I went to were interesting, so I have no regrets. I just wish I could have slept more!”
Elizabeth Ramsey, junior, also enjoyed the conference because she doesn’t get to do a lot of traveling. “Being able to go someplace new and far away is always great, but the conference experience itself was a blast,” she said. “The readings and panels are interesting, and we get to interact with lots of like-minded people.” She also was pleased with her reading of her original fiction piece, “Magic for Beginners.”
“I was nervous at first, like I always am for presentations, but when I actually got to my panel, the rest of the presenters were very friendly and welcoming, and the audience was polite and invested,” Ramsey said. “The whole atmosphere was relaxed, which made presenting a whole lot less stressful and a lot more fun.”
Ramsey has recently been elected as STD’s new Secretary for the following year. Zoe Henderson, who has been elected as Vice President, spoke of the connections the conference allowed the students to make with fellow English majors and minors from schools all across the conference.
“It was really interesting to learn about their educations and how they differ from and are similar to ours,” Henderson said. “It was also so amazing to be surrounded by so many like-minded individuals who we could talk to about English and our course content even though we had never met before. I made instant connections with some people because they were so similar to me.”
Overall, the students in attendance at the conference agreed that it inspired them to continue along the path of English. Bethany Eveleth, junior and new STD president, was especially inspired. “The conference definitely reignited a passion for the art for me,” she said. “I feel more accountable for myself now, rather than simply writing because it’s a requirement, it was a real wakeup call that in order to get anywhere in this field, I need to practice just like a basketball player or pianist. I know my passion lies in creative writing, and I have to bring that to all of my classes, even the critical ones.”
“I was really inspired by the poets that were succeeding in form. As a writer who is really intimidated by form, and really inexperienced, hearing really skilled villanelles and sonnets, etc. made me make a personal challenge for myself to explore form more and get outside of my comfort zone,” Eveleth finished.
Henderson agreed with this, going on to explain the importance of students attending academic conferences throughout their time at college: “Academic conferences are incredibly helpful toward furthering a student’s education. An academic conference allows students to meet with their peers from all over the world, be inspired, find solidarity, and become more educated in their fields.”
“After my experience at the conference,” said Ewert. “I am now more dedicated to my writing and will strive to create new short pieces in the hopes of not only improving my craft, but also forming a collection of works to put under my belt.”
Overall, the annual Sigma Tau Delta conference was extremely successful for all ten students who attended, especially considering the major rise in presentations over the course of just one year. Next year, the conference will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, and will hopefully have just as many, if not more, students presenting their English work!